First responders have rushed to help their communities over the last few months to help ensure everyone’s safety in this challenging period. Those of us in hospitality might be left questioning what we can do to help - but there are ways we can all pitch in to support first responders, and our communities.
In today’s blog post, guest blogger Beau Peters returns with some best-practice tips and strategies for hotels to help support first responders and uphold a safe and secure environment for everyone.
This has become an especially important conversation as the COVID-19 pandemic has hit every industry, with travel and hospitality being profoundly affected. Hotel rooms are standing empty, and understaffing is widespread. As businesses work to buoy their staff and support the important work that responders are doing at the same time, how do they find a balance?
From direct recognition to reduced rates for responders, there are many options for showing your appreciation and creating some positive, value-driven exposure for your business at the same time.
By recognizing the extra care that these individuals need right now, and doing what you can to acknowledge and support them, you can go a long way in alleviating the stress and exhaustion that they are experiencing. The most direct way you can do this is by building supportive partnerships and providing direct support by providing rooms for front-line workers.
Develop community partnerships and expand your network
Many first responders are far from home or unable to return to their homes because of contamination concerns. Simultaneously, hotels have empty rooms that they need to fill. Marriot and Hilton have found a way to support frontline workers by collaborating with American Express.
This joint venture supports emergency workers by providing clean, safe housing. In addition to providing a secure place for workers to sleep, it gives healthcare professionals a chance to step away from their responsibilities and recharge.
This type of support not only provides immediate necessities and support to a community of high-stress employees, it recognizes their contribution directly. By not only stating support but directly providing it on an individual basis, you can build relationships that will not soon be forgotten.
So reach out to other businesses in your area and brainstorm ways to support each other - use this network to benefit your guests, your local community, and of course your own business!
Publicly recognize your team for great work
While you are providing these services, however, you must be wary of the toll this can take on your staff, and take steps to support them as well. Your staff are in the midst of an incredibly stressful situation, so the value of recognition in professional relationships cannot be overstated. It’s essential to publicly recognize your team’s great work, especially when working overtime or as a skeleton crew.
Make sure to recognize your employees in the moment as well as officially. Provide additional support in the form of improved work resources and personal support to make them feel valued as staff members continue their duties during uncertain times.
Invest in your staff, and they’ll feel invested in you.
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Stay on top of amenities and necessities
Amenities and services have always been a mainstay of the hospitality industry. Some of these services are opportunities to provide the next level in support of first-line healthcare workers. Focus on providing a clean, safe environment, as well as high-speed internet, high-quality meals, and assist in providing safe transportation. By doing this you can help alleviate many of the concerns that plague these volunteers and employees when they leave work.
A key factor in all of these steps is ensuring a high quality of experience at every step. Making sure that the water quality in your rooms is maintained and keeping high-quality meals available as much as you can are some basic needs that you can address proactively.
Outside of necessities, there are some extra steps that you can take to make healthcare and emergency responders feel even more at home. This has included efforts such as making comfort meals from workers’ home countries or noting birthdays and having small celebrations available for them when they return to their room.
Steps like these have left responders feeling that they are not only well-cared for but that their work and their presence is valued.
Be flexible and open to opportunities
While many businesses are in the challenging position of finding ways to balance keeping the lights on with supporting important relief efforts, hotels have a unique opportunity.
Hotels have facilities already in place to support the housing and care of those who are working hardest to keep our cities and their citizens safe, and they can find this balance by catering to first responders. By converting available rooms to quarantine areas and responder housing, hotels can support the health and safety of both their community and the ongoing recovery efforts.
This is also an opportunity for what we call value-driven exposure - especially on social media. Guests today understand that they ‘vote with their wallet’ - they want to spend money with businesses that demonstrate values that align with their own.
Put simply, all this really means is that positive news about your business will encourage guests to choose you over a competitor. Of course, this isn’t the be-all-end-all - but it’s a good thing to bear in mind. Don’t be afraid to be transparent about the ways your business supports your local community.
Adaptations such as travel bubbles between countries are beginning to develop, where citizens from one country can travel to an adjoining country based on the current state of restrictions. This will help to support the hotel and travel industry as we move forward, but there are still many open rooms. This is creating an opportunity for hotels and travel agencies to support ongoing relief efforts and first responders.
By seeing to front-line workers’ needs and providing them with somewhere to rest and recharge, you can build a reputation and relationships that will carry you through to the other side of the pandemic.
Beau Peters is a writer with an increasingly diverse portfolio and a history in business management. He has a passion for sharing what he has learned with others and enjoys making the world a better place. When he is not tucked behind a cup of coffee and a laptop, Beau likes to meet new people and try new things.
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